2005 Cadillac CTS
– Powerful engines
– Good handling
– Loaded with luxury
– Some quality issues
– Controversial design
– Wind noise at high speeds
The rear-wheel-drive Cadillac CTS is truly a great sports sedan, and since its launch in 2003, has become the poster child of the new high performance Cadillac range which is making an impression in the luxury car league. The CTS is now a more improved and refined machine, with its new generation of V6 engines which are smoother and more powerful, featuring technology such as variable valve timing, dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. The 2005 model comes with a choice of two new V6 engines–the 2.8-litre and the 3.6-litre. We tested the latter and found it to be fairly smooth and powerful enough on the streets of Dubai.
The 210 hp 2.8-litre, with 265 Nm of torque, is offered with a standard 6-speed manual transmission with an optional 5-speed automatic gearbox available, and is offered in either a standard or a luxury-sport package, while the 255 hp 3.6-litre, with a massive 342 Nm of torque, is also available with a standard 6-speed manual gearbox and an optional smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic gearbox, while the luxury-sport package is standard.
With its unique edgy styling, it surely stands out even on the busiest of streets. From the front, the CTS looks extremely aggressive with its large louvered grill accompanied with vertical headlamps, carrying on the tradition from Cadillacs of the 1960s. The rectangular fog lights up front add to its unique look. The short high deck with tall tail lamps compliments the rear end to complete the overall sporty looks. The styling is either truly loved or totally hated by people, with no opinions in between.
The interior of the CTS gives a jaw-dropping first impression but not a lasting one. The centre console is angled towards the driver. The rubbery texture of the dashboard might not be that luxurious, but it certainly gives the interior its own unique look. There is not much wood in the CTS apart from the steering wheel, door handles and the gear shifter, leaving the interior a bit empty since it is meant to be a luxury sedan. Overall build quality is good, but the rear interior dome light cover fell off due to poor fitting. The leather seats are really comfortable and kept us going for hours without being uneasy. The front passengers are relatively at ease but the amount of leg room at the back becomes a concern when transporting five tall occupants. The luggage trunk is enormous, with a cargo net to hold small items. The steering wheel design feels right at home, with its leather upholstery giving it excellent feel and grip.
The console consists of two major components–the multipurpose LCD screen and the climate control amber LCD with backlit pictograms. With a built-in TV/DVD player, the CTS surely grabs the attention of most people who ride in it. The audio system is something Cadillac can boast about, especially when it comes to the optional BOSE setup. The air-conditioning unit is not up to the mark considering how hot it gets especially during the summer in the Middle East region. Add to that, the CTS does not have an a/c vent for rear passengers, which is quite odd for a vehicle in this price range.
The 2.8-litre models come standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, while the 3.6-litre version comes with 17-inch chrome wheels, giving the CTS a sporty touch. Care should be taken when driving the CTS outfitted with 17-inch rims, as we managed to bend a rim going over a pothole at low speed while exiting an ill-maintained petrol station, much to the dismay of General Motors Middle East, who courteously gave us the test vehicle.
On the safety front, the CTS offers standard four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction control with an optional stability control system, seat-mounted side airbags for front passengers and side curtain airbags for both the front and rear occupants.
The new 3.6-litre V6 is a treat when cruising, except for the excessive wind noise which is irritating at high speeds. The engine definitely responds immediately as soon as you press on the accelerator pedal, benefiting from its broad torque curve. The V6 is not as smooth as similar Japanese engines, but vibrations are negligible during normal driving. The fuel mileage for both the 2.8-litre and the 3.6-litre are similar, but the tank capacity is relatively small compared to the size of the engine, going around 300 kilometres on a full tank. The fuel economy, while not frugal, is still quite impressive for a sedan with such performance.
The ride and handling of the CTS are smooth, sporty and stable. The power steering has been tuned to perfection. Whether at high speed or coming out of a parking, it is simply the best bit of the CTS. The suspension is nicely damped at low speeds, making the ride very comfortable even on rough roads, although at higher speeds, there is some bumpiness. The suspension is more suited for the driving enthusiast, so ordinary drivers might feel the ride is a bit stiff. Its rear-wheel-drive setup and brusque handling along with the phenomenal horsepower, all work hand in hand when exiting out of hard corners. Go into a corner too quick and the StabiliTrak system is there to ensure the car does not skid and it remains on course. Although the CTS does suffer from some tyre squealing when doing hard turns at moderate speeds, there is nothing to worry about. Braking is powerful and predictable. Rest assured, the car can come to a complete stop without any screeching or swerving even from 120 kph.
Overall the CTS is fun to drive and satisfaction is guaranteed to those looking for a fairly luxurious vehicle with performance intentions. It is a really good alternative to German marques like BMW and Mercedes-Benz. With the CTS, Cadillac offers performance and comfort, making a mark in the sports sedan category, and it is definitely here to stay.
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